An anti-bullying law in the Michigan State Senate, SB 137, ironically also called “Matt’s Safe School Law” after 14-year old Matt Eppling who committed suicide in 2002 after being bullied, was passed on partisan lines by Michigan Republican senators without a single Democratic vote. And while most anti-bullying laws are to be applauded, the Michigan Republicans passed an amended bill, which contained an insert reading:
“This section does not prohibit a statement of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil and parent or guardian.”
AMAZINGLY, Michigan Republicans excluded anything said from a “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction” from being considered as bullying. An accused bully who claims that his speech emanated from his or her religious beliefs, is by definition in this law, not a bully. That is to say, this Michigan Republican anti-bullying bill contains language that PROTECTS bullying if it is RELIGIOUS bullying, or speech that is uttered from what the bully claims is a “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.”
As Michigan Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D) said regarding the final version of the bill, it is a “blueprint for bullying.” And I agree. As long as a bully, be it a student, a parent, a school employee, or a school volunteer says that their bullying of a student was part of their religious beliefs or moral convictions, then it’s not really bullying.
And it’s easy to see where this is headed and why the language was inserted. With the debate over same-sex marriage and the church’s view of homosexuality continuing to escalate, Michigan Republicans want to make sure those religious fundamentalists within their constituency are protected from bullying laws when they and/or their children give some young gay student their best Westboro Baptist impression.
The new Michigan law is an outline for precisely how to bully and get away with it. Just claim your hateful and hurtful speech is part of your religious beliefs, and it’s suddenly OK.
Once again, potential religious oppression is exempted from laws that are designed to protect children. You can’t bully children unless you do it in the name of the Lord!
Filed under: christianity, politics, religion Tagged: | blueprint for bullying, bullying, christianity, exemption, homophobia, homosexuality, Matt Eppling, Matt’s Safe School Law, michigan, Michigan Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, moral, religion, religious, same-sex marriage, SB 137, state senate